Wharfedale evo 4.1 not as expected

tknipe

Standard Member
Hi everyone, just recently received a pair of Wharfedale evo 4.1 speakers after seeing many good reviews. These speakers definitely look the part and appear well built. I was wondering if anyone else has recently tried these or maybe others from the evo 4.* range.

I was expecting something special from these speakers, especially in the top end with the AMT tweeter. I hooked them up to an Audiolab 6000a play where I originally had been using a pair of rather old mission 780 and 782's (testing with both to compare). I want to use bookshelf speakers with my new setup but the 780's are a bit lacking in lower bass and can be fussy about positioning. They are still great speakers though. With the Evo's bottom facing reflex port being less dependent on position I thought they would be a big improvement for flexibility.

What did impress me with the Evo's was the deep level of bass on offer considering their size, although it could be tighter. But what stood out immediately was the boxed in and dull sounding vocals. There was detail and sparkle in the more extreme top end with nice separation but it was at a much lower level than I'm used to. It was as if something was missing in the upper mid to lower top end. I used my old Rotel RA-02 to compare these with my old Mission speakers directly since it has dual speaker switching. My old Mission's have a more open and refined sound with far superior vocals and treble. The bass is deeper on the Evos but not as tight as the Mission's. When I switch to the Evos it's like someone just threw a blanket over the speaker (and turned up the volume a bit because I assume they're slightly more sensitive). Although they have good qualities like a deeper sounding bass, wide soundstage and great detail, it just sounds like someone switched on a filter attenuating the upper mid to high frequencies and giving vocals and certain sounds a more boxed in feel. I have heard that this can be an issue before running in, but I have tried them over a few days so far. I even tried bi-wiring them, but no improvement.

I'm just baffled that many reviews seem to praise their vocal and midrange performance, but for me this is their week point. It's particularly noticeable with rock music because the cymbals, snares and electric guitars don't stand out as they should. What is there is detailed and nicely separated, it's just too laid back with that attenuated top end. I also noticed on comparison that the detailed separation of instruments, being very good on both, could be a little muddled on the Evos low end where for example a bass guitar stood out better on the old Mission's.

I often listen to music using Grado SR125e headphones, a sound that I like very much. These have a much closer tonal balance to the Mission speakers. The Evos have a tonal balance similar to my Sky sound box, which if you've ever used to play music is just awful. I'm not saying the Evos sound anything like it, it's just a similar tone.

I should point out that I tried the Evos on both the Rotel and new Audiolab amps with bi-wire. Each setup revealed the same characteristics. I used the Audiolab CDT as a source plus FLAC files played from my PC via optical to the Audiolab 6000a Play. For the Rotel Amp I used a Marantz CDR 6000 plus an echo input.

If I listen to something like house or trance without vocals they can produce a lot of detail, a wide soundstage, and a nice sparkle at the extreme top end. They definitely appeal more with this sort of music. But even then it's a little too warm sounding for my liking. I'm not sure if a longer run in will improve things, they just seem like too much is missing. Maybe the Evo 4.2 with the dome mid range provides what is missing with these. I'd be interested in other experiences with these speakers. Perhaps they need partnering with a brighter sounding amp.

I know sound always comes down to personal preference. If you like a very warm sound with a deeper bass and more subtle yet detailed top end then these may suit. I just can't get past that closed in and attenuated sounding upper vocals. It just shows you that 20 year old speakers can still outperform the latest designs (at least for my ears!).
 

aekostas

Active Member
You must be feeling gutted, I feel for you.

Sorry if I missed it, how far are they from the wall?

Other than that, two things spring to mind: you may want to persist with the running in; and you may want to give them more of a chance, as change takes a bit of getting used to.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Run them in some more, then try another amplifier (if you can) if that helps you know what’ missing. Try experiment with different options. Play really loud bass tracks. Yellow as an example.
 

Paul7777x

Member
Sounds very surprising. As you say, they are very well reviewed.

I’ll just mention the obvious, have you made certain that the speaker cable polarity is correct and that the jumper bars are very tight?

Also, do you have a photo of the speakers from your listening position?
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
The speakers need a lot of space from the walls. Try and least 80 cm, then go on from there. And have you tried toe in?
 

tknipe

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. Really sorry for the delay in getting back but I've been busy over the Easter weekend.

I think running in more may help, I've seen a couple of reviews describing the same characteristics before they were run in for some time.

I checked everything like phase and connections as mentioned, and other than the two amps I tried I don't have anything else to test them with.

As for position, I have them on stands (spiked through carpet on concrete floor) just over a foot away from side walls and pretty much open from behind and slightly toed in towards listening position.

I think the fact that there are many good things happening like soundstage and detail in the bass, lower mids and extreme top end, I don't think it's a result of amp or position. I just think these speakers are a bit too warm and short on dynamics and clarity for my taste. The issue with vocals may improve with time but I don't think they're right for me. I'm going to send them back because I have the opportunity to do so.

Thanks again for the input.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Perhaps Dynaudio is more in your alley or Dali. The Dali Oberon 9 have fairly warm sound but still precise, dynamic in the bass and so on. But there are tons of other choices. Monitor Audio and so on...
 

tknipe

Standard Member
Perhaps Dynaudio is more in your alley or Dali. The Dali Oberon 9 have fairly warm sound but still precise, dynamic in the bass and so on. But there are tons of other choices. Monitor Audio and so on...
Thanks. I'm after stand mounts for around £500 but could stretch further if necessary. I have an MK subwoofer I can use to add bass if necessary. I do prefer something on the slightly warmer side but with good clarity and dynamics. I don't want anything too bright or harsh at the top end.
 

Paul7777x

Member
I’d suggest either the Kef R300 if you can stretch to it.

A thoroughbred, genuinely three way speaker that was a bargain at its original £1300.


Bit of a drive up the A27, but a good run on a fine day (an easy four hour round trip with perhaps a beer in one of the many, many pub gardens along the way after Monday).

And worth the effort by literally all accounts.
 

Paul7777x

Member
Alternatively, if you’d prefer new then Dynaudio are famed for exceptional midrange.

 

aekostas

Active Member
I understand the £75 disappointment. At least you gave them a go. I think auditioning is important and a major contributor to my “better the devil you know” mentality.
 

tknipe

Standard Member
Alternatively, if you’d prefer new then Dynaudio are famed for exceptional midrange.

They look like they'd probably match my preference in sound. The Kef R300 would be great but I'd prefer new. Of course I'd love it if I afford the Kef R3's.

I need to book an audition and have a proper listen to a range of speakers for comparison.
 

Paul7777x

Member
They look like they'd probably match my preference in sound. The Kef R300 would be great but I'd prefer new. Of course I'd love it if I afford the Kef R3's.

I need to book an audition and have a proper listen to a range of speakers for comparison.

Don’t forget to take your own amp :smashin:
 

tknipe

Standard Member
I understand the £75 disappointment. At least you gave them a go. I think auditioning is important and a major contributor to my “better the devil you know” mentality.
I took a chance on them because of the discount and based on the reviews I'd seen. I'll definitely audition before buying the next pair.

The one thing I am pleased with is my Audiolab purchase. With all the listening I've been doing with various genres of music I have to say it sounds great. The on board DAC really does improve the detail and refinement of audio files.
 

aekostas

Active Member
Just before lockdown 1 I spoke to my local Richer Sounds and they did that (home visit, I think). That was for Monitor Audio Bronze, I think, nothing exotic. Not sure what they do now, nor what the future will bring.

Being a bottom-feeder with a penchant for cheap, thus used stuff, I did the honourable thing and didn’t go ahead. 😊
 

gibbsy

Moderator
They look like they'd probably match my preference in sound. The Kef R300 would be great but I'd prefer new. Of course I'd love it if I afford the Kef R3's.

I need to book an audition and have a proper listen to a range of speakers for comparison.
The infamous Z prefers the old R300s to the newer R3s. I've been running R300s for over six years now. Keep getting a bout of upgradiatus and change them but find it hard to justify the change they are that good. Wide soundstage, strong mids and highs and with the right amp fast response bass.

 

Paul7777x

Member
They look like they'd probably match my preference in sound. The Kef R300 would be great but I'd prefer new. Of course I'd love it if I afford the Kef R3's.

I need to book an audition and have a proper listen to a range of speakers for comparison.

Ps, if you can bring yourself to consider used then at least you should be able to have a quick listen to the Kefs in the guys house.

They are something of a legend and an excellent way to spend your budget.

Just a thought.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Dynaudio vs KEF... Two different sound presentation from each speakers. If you want warmth, fairly neutral sound then both these choices are very good. However if you like KEF coaxial drivers then I think you may like KEF better. But Dynaudio has a fabulous midrange. Good luck.
 

JJ44

Novice Member
In response to the first post re 4.1 evo I had the 4.2 and had they same results musically /sound as tknipe - I was amazed when I first listened to these speakers but then it feels like there is something missing in the sound field and found myself constantly trying to reposition the speakers - there is something unnatural about the sound in certain areas (especially vocals on some tracks) - the speakers do pick out vocals instruments etc very well but you end up listening to everything individually rather than the overall track - nothing exciting and they certainly don't make the hairs on your neck stand on end. There is no fast pace to these speakers and they are pretty warm so will suit some people however I just found them dull and boring - yes you can listen to them for hours but that's if you don't fall asleep first. Ran with Cambridge CXA 81 which some say (on pro reviews) sound amazing with these speakers. Everyone is different and every speaker / amp will sound different to everyone - id just like to stay awake when listening to my music.
 

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